Hot Bath in April
By Joshua Dolezal
This cold snap in late spring has brought much needed rain, and
it has given me back my morning ritual. All winter, I rose early and
drew a scalding bath first thing, smothering toast with apricot jam
while water drummed in the tub. When the weather warmed then turned
hot, I began sleeping beneath a sheet and the footsteps of heavy dreams,
craving only a cool washcloth against my skin. Night and day converged
in a stream of heat and half-waking.
Thirty degrees this morning, cold for late April. I am up early, ravenous
after a brisk seven hours beneath a quilt. Water tattoos the porcelain
tub, muffled by the half-closed bathroom door. I spread apricot jam
over the butter, watching them melt into the toast. The kitchen tile
chills my feet, bumps rippling across my back.
Before long, I will plunge both feet into the steaming water, grimacing
at the burn climbing from my toes to my shins. Then will come the ohhhhh
of sinking in up to my waist, the sides of my thighs tingling. Soon
enough, I will bend my knees and slide my shoulder blades down the slope
of the tub, the water creeping up along my belly until I catch my breath
as my chest goes under.
Better than all of this is stepping back into the frigid air, my body
buzzing with heat, veins bulging along both ankles. After drying, I
will stride across the kitchen tile like I have always wanted to walk
through my life, this skin of mine now the seam where fire and frost
Dolezal is a visiting assistant professor of American literature
at Central College. He is also an erstwhile wilderness ranger. His work
has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Gettysburg Review,
Quarterly West, The Seattle Review, Natural Bridge, and North
Dakota Quarterly, among other journals.